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07/07/09 3:00 AM ET
Padres unable to cash in on miscues
Gregerson, Meredith falter; club nabs three error-aided runs
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- The D-backs tried in every way to give this game to the Padres. They committed a pair of errors and tossed a pair of wild pitches. But San Diego couldn't take advantage of the opportunities, allowing Arizona to score twice in the eighth and once in the ninth en route to stealing a 6-5 victory at Chase Field on Monday night. The winning run came with two out and no one on in the ninth when reliever Cla Meredith walked Justin Upton, who immediately stole second and scored on a Mark Reynolds single. Meredith (4-2) took the loss for his two-thirds of an inning of work. Jon Rauch (1-0) earned the win for pitching the top of the inning. "I got the two quick outs," said Meredith, who seemed to escape trouble when line drives by Felipe Lopez and Stephen Drew were smacked directly at well-positioned outfielders. "I got to Upton, and in the back of my mind I didn't want to let one guy beat me. And I lost my aggressiveness. A two-out walk, that's not what you want to do. Then I had Reynolds where I wanted him. I threw him a decent pitch, a slider he gets out on a lot. He didn't get out on that one." Reynolds pickled the ball into the left-field corner, and despite the speedy Upton's steal, he might have been able to score from first base on that bolt anyway. "Actually, J-Up and I talked in the dugout before the inning, and he said if he got on first and I had a ball on me, he was going to steal," Reynolds said. "First-pitch ball, and J-Up stole. I got a hit, and that's kind of what we planned out in the dugout. It's pretty cool." Meredith was the fifth pitcher in the game for the Padres, who had a 5-3 lead going into the bottom of the eighth but couldn't hold it. The fifth run scored in the eighth when Everth Cabrera walked with two out, stole second and third on consecutive pitches, and scooted around to home when catcher Miguel Montero's throw to third bounced into left field. That was one error-aided run. In the second with one out, Chase Headley singled to right and went to second when Upton bobbled the ball for an error. Will Venable then grounded to short into what easily could have been a double play had Upton simply come up with Headley's ball. Headley went to third and scored on Eliezer Alfonzo's single. That was the second error-aided run. Later in the second, with the bases loaded, two out and Cabrera up, D-backs starter Jon Garland uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Alfonzo to score. It was enough to make at least the manager cringe. "They executed better than we did and put pressure on our defense, and we kind of gave them a free run," said D-backs manager A.J. Hinch, referring to Montero's throw into left field. "What we are doing now that's better is we are finding a way to overcome some mistakes. We're still making too many defensive mistakes, but being able to overcome them and not cash in the last remaining outs was the key to the win tonight, and I'm proud that we did that." To be sure, Upton redeemed himself by making a fine catch fading to the fence on a Cabrera drive, ending the second inning without further damage. The Padres stranded 11 baserunners in the game, including another pair with none out and one run in during the fifth, when the shortstop Drew dove to his left and snared a liner off the bat of Kevin Kouzmanoff to kick off a string of three straight outs. The baseball gods giveth, and they taketh away. "Since I've been here, that's pretty much been the story of our losses," said Tony Gwynn Jr., who came over in a trade with the Brewers on May 21 and had three singles in the game. "We get some guys on and we hit some balls hard, but we just don't seem like we're able to pull it all together." The D-backs came back to tie the score at 5 in the bottom of the eighth against reliever Luke Gregerson, who came off the disabled list before the game after recovering from a strained right shoulder. Montero opened with a double and scored on Gerardo Parra's single. With two out, Chad Tracy tied the score with a pinch-hit homer to right, his fifth blast of the season. "Boy, we hit some balls on the nose and they made plays," Padres manager Bud Black said. "And they got a couple of big hits at the end. That's the way it goes. That's the way the ball rolls sometimes."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.